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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Xunantunich Mayan Ruins in Belize

 
Prior to coming here, everyone kept telling me this is a third world country. I disagree. It looks like every other country/island we have been to in the Caribbean. Yes, not exactly like us, but they still have everything we are used to here in the United States. There have been several places in the Caribbean we have been to that appear worse than this country. Not sure why many people have this opinion. I should have taken more pictures of the scenery to show those people what it really looks like in Belize.
They speak perfect English just like us, wear the same clothes as us, eat mostly the same food as us and drive our same cars. Exact cars - they drive to the US and then drive the 2 or 3 days back to Belize with them. In fact, our tour guide said that's where are bus for the day came from and our driver is one of the guys who drives cars from the US to here.
  
Matt and I decided for this stop, we wanted to see the Xunantunich Mayan Ruins. This was going to be a 7-hour excursion with lunch included. The price was $89.99/pp. Expensive, yes, but we never do expensive excursions and we figured we might as well splurge in order to fully experience everything we think we will enjoy. By booking through Carnival, we were guaranteed the first tender to the port (and the ship wouldn't leave us if we were late coming back) so everyone who had an early morning tour all meet in the theater 30 minutes prior to departure and were given different colored and numbered stickers based on which tour they were going on. I think this was a good idea for making everything run a bit more smoothly.
  
When we arrived at the port pier from the tendered boat, we were walked to air conditioned charter buses. They broke us into 3 smaller groups which made our group consist of 39 people. Our tour guide was Melissa. Our bus had a separate driver which was wonderful because this allowed Melissa to talk to us the entire 2 hours to the ruins instead of being distracted by the road. She told us all about the history and current conditions of Belize.
Very fascinating! I greatly enjoyed this part while watching the scenery of the country go by! Matt didn't. I guess he would have preferred to sit in silence. LOL!
I especially (among several others things) liked learning that they have satellite TV there - Direct TV in fact. The exact TV service we have which we pay roughly $100 for the lowest package they offer with whole home DVR. Wanna know what they pay in Belize?
They pay $22.99.
Yep, you read that correctly.
$22.99!
Can you believe that?
This price includes all the channels.
Every single channel. All movie channels - she specifically listed them all for us.
They also get all the pay-per-view movies. For free. She explained to us that's how people in Belize know everything we in America like to do, where we shop and where we eat. She told us if we look around, we won't see any fast food restaurants from home since their country is more established by Asian countries. This means if they want our Burger King or McDonald's, they travel the 70 miles or whatever it is to Mexico. Isn't that crazy? You should have heard her talking about all this. She was very animated. :)
But sure enough, I didn't see any restaurants or stores I recognize from the US - we did see several oriental places though.
   
After driving the 2 hours to the Mayan Ruins area, we exited our bus and walked onto a hand cranked ferry where we met our two Mayan Ruin tour guides.
One of the tour guides for the ruins noticed Matt and I looking at the small fish in the river. He told us they are toothless fish who people use to charge others to eat their dead skin. Sound familiar???
Matt told the guy we just had that experience in Cozumel and we could have saved $60 by coming here first. LOL! Such a funny thought!
  
Once off the ferry, we boarded vans to the entrance of the Mayan Ruins where we had the opportunity to purchase $1 bottled waters and use the restroom.
Fun fact - we were just two miles from the Guatemala border.
While here, Melissa told us to look up at the 'I forget what they are called and I am too lazy to Google them right now' monkeys in the trees not too far from us.
She told us not to get there attention because they are very territorial and would not like us being as close to them as we were currently. A little scary considering how close they were to us. Luckily, they never woke.
 
Now, I am going to let the pictures do the talking for me. I took a bunch!
Please note, lots of walking was involved and it was hot.
 Looking down from the largest temple
Looking up at the largest temple
The ruins are beautiful!
Breathtaking looking up at them and breathtaking looking down from atop of the tallest temple! We climbed a small one and the largest -El Castillo.
  
While at the top of the largest one, I noticed my calves cramping and burning much worse then when we were going up all the steps. Going down the temple was really hurting. Hurting to the point that I sat on my butt and scooted down for some of the steeper steps.
I wanted to cry.
I wanted to quit and take a very long break.
I would have liked a nap in the shade.
None of those options were even options at that point. I had no choice but to continue on the journey.
I cannot express how much pain I was in nor do I really want to try and remember all the details of the pain. To make a long story short, I barely made it off the largest temple and down to the picnic table area. When I made it to the tables, I didn’t even have the energy to get to one. I laid on my back on the cool concrete ground until I could find the energy to sit up. People (mostly older, probably concerned) who did not climb the ruin clapped for me and told me I made it. Commented on how we should all receive a metal for climbing up and down the temples.
I'm sure I was very pathetic looking (and acting) and they were just trying to be nice. Matt kept telling me to get up. I don’t think he realized how much pain I was in.
 
And since I am not ashamed of what happened (although I'm definitely not exactly proud), here is a picture of me that Matt took after I had sat up.
This was also the last picture taken in Belize
   
I could barely stand. And I sure the heck couldn't continue walking to where we started our hike. I truly was about to cry. Matt stopped Melissa and asked if we could catch a ride with this white truck who just happened to be heading in our direction to go down the hill and across the way to the entrance. At first, she said no and that she didn’t know them. After Matt explained to her how much pain I was in and how I could barely walk, she must have felt sorry for me because she asked them and they said yes. I was so thankful to these people (they worked there) and to her for asking!
When they dropped us off in the shade at the entrance by the vans, I just sat there. Matt bought me two cold bottles of water and told me to drink. He thinks I was mostly dehydrated and my legs weren't used to going up and down so many stairs.
Not fun at all!
I barely made it to the van, then the walk to the ferry, stand on the ferry while it went across the river, and then the walk from the ferry to the chartered bus and then to my third row seat on the bus. I was miserable.
And then 15 minutes later, I had to get off the bus and walk through a few booths of shopping vendors to get to a seat to eat a local lunch included with the tour.
I ate one bite or chicken and one bite of rice and beans. I didn't like any of it. Matt ate most of his stuff (he did try the Belkin beer decent he said and the hot sauce LOVED and bought 3 per comments on the reviews I read) and my chicken so I at least appeared to have ate some of my food. To be fair, this could have been because I was exhausted and had no appetite for anything. I then had to go pee from all the water I drank which meant I was forced to walk to a nearby restroom and then back to Matt for the slow walk back to my seat on the bus. I felt like I wanted to die. And yes, I know I sound a bit dramatic, but this is all true. I am trying my best to paint the picture for you. If I'm not doing it good enough, just scroll up to the last picture to see how pitiful I really was.
 
I slept most the 2 hour bus ride back to the pier. I was thankful the return trip involved no talking. When I woke, I had to go pee again. Barely made it to a restroom after departing the bus. I knew I had to go before boarding the tendering boat since the trip is about 20 minutes back to the ship followed by more walking to our room.
   
Once Matt and I got back on the ship, we ate lunch/dinner on the Lido deck and then I slept. I think I slept the whole evening. I don’t remember doing anything. I felt bad about us missing the evening magic show (Matt enjoys watching magic tricks). He should have went without me.
  
And that was Belize.
Overall, I had a wonderful experience there. Wonderful tour. I highly recommend going to the Xunantunich Mayan Ruins as long as you are well hydrated and in somewhat good shape. If not, you can still come here, but don’t climb the ruins.
It's not Belize's fault my calves burned from dehydration - just my own.


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